One of the world’s largest technology trade shows has insisted it still plans to hold the 2021 in-person event in Barcelona at the end of June.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) traditionally takes place in February each year but was moved to June for 2021 to allow more time for in-person events to return in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organisers GSMA has now unveiled its safety plan for the rescheduled event, which includes requiring attendees from some countries to show a negative Covid-19 test prior to travelling to Barcelona, and all attendees producing a further negative rapid test every 72 hours to access the venue.
The GSMA said it was confident its safety strategy would allow an in-person MWC to take place between June 28 and July 1, even though the event is traditionally attended by more than 100,000 people.
Reports have suggested the organisers believe as many as 50,000 people could be allowed to attend this year.
As well as providing a negative Covid test prior to travel and using rapid test centres made available to visitors, the conference said it would also conduct temperature checks at all access points and introduce social distancing measures and a “touchless” environment using digital badges on smartphones to reduce interactions.
The plan, known as Committed Community, will also feature a new fresh air injection and external ventilation system at the host venue, Fira Barcelona, to improve airflow.
A new monitoring system will be used to look at the active capacity and density of crowds.
Those who apply to attend the event will be asked to commit not only to complying with the testing protocols but completing a daily health questionnaire on the convention’s app, wearing a suitable face covering and adhering to social distancing requirements.
— GSMA (@GSMA) March 8, 2021
“We’ve worked with partners, health authorities and medical professionals to create a plan that builds confidence in our return to in-person events,” GSMA chief executive John Hoffman said.
“The GSMA has safely and successfully organised premier mobile events for many years. Since 2006 we have worked closely with the Host City Parties and Fira Barcelona to keep everyone safe and secure at MWC events.
“No doubt Covid-19 is our biggest challenge to date, but our experience gives us a rock-solid foundation from which we have built our plan. This foundation means MWC21 Barcelona can go ahead safely, in person, with a digital online component for those unable to attend.
“It will remain the unique, unmissable experience that has made it the world’s most important mobile event.”
MWC was one of a number of trade shows cancelled last year due to the pandemic, while other tech conventions and announcements took place virtually.
In the past it has been used by the likes of Samsung, Huawei and Sony to unveil their latest smartphones.